A settlement tends to end most personal injury cases quite promptly.
Personal injury cases stem from incidents where the victim is injured due to the careless actions of another party. The plaintiff then files a civil suit to obtain the compensation they need for medical expenses and pain and suffering from the insurance carrier of the offender.
Settlements range from $2,500 to $75,000 or more, and most cases are finalized in anywhere from one to six weeks.
That said, many of the factors highlighted below can delay the process.
Most Personal Injury Settlements Finalize In Less Than Six Weeks
Personal injury settlements routinely drag on for months, even years. By the time the insurance company eventually agrees to a settlement, you are likely to be eager to resolve the case, get your compensation, and start putting that money to good use for addressing medical bills and other pressing expenses.
Regrettably, the settlement process is more involved than the insurer popping a check in the mail.
While many variables impact this process, most personal injury settlements should settle within less than six weeks.
Step 1: Sign the Releases and Any Other Documentation
When you reach a settlement with the insurance provider, the attorneys then draft several release forms.
Your circumstances will dictate whether these release forms are straightforward, or whether they could contain terms and conditions needing close examination by your attorney.
Often, the two parties will enter back-and-forth negotiations to finalize the terms of your settlement.
When all negotiations are complete and the drafted release forms are in their final state, you need to review and sign the forms before your settlement proceeds further.
Step 2: The Insurance Carrier Processes the Release Then Cuts a Check
As soon as the insurer receives these signed release forms, they should process them expediently. At this point, this can issue your settlement check.
The check is typically made payable to you as well as your attorney, and it will be mailed to your attorney.
This is a simple enough process that should usually run without interference, but sometimes clerical error leads to delay in payment.
Step 3: Your Attorney Deposits the Check in an Escrow Account and Then Pays Your Liens
Your lawyer will deposit the insurance check into an escrow or trust account. This is not your attorney’s decision but a mandatory part of the process. As soon as the check clears, your lawyer will send on your settlement funds.
In most cases, your counsel will use a portion of your settlement money to pay any liens (unpaid debts). Payments might include:
- Unpaid medical bills
- Health insurance
- Child support
These liens should all be resolved as soon as the settlement funds clear. Ignoring liens from government agencies, insurance carriers, or medical providers can trigger severe penalties.
Step 4: Your Lawyer Also Deducts Legal Fees and Costs Before Cutting a Check
Your attorney pays all liens and then deducts legal costs and fees for your settlement. These legal fees amount to a predetermined percentage of your settlement. This will be outlined in the original attorney-client contract.
Legal costs hinge on many variables specific to your case, including:
- Expert witness fees
- Deposition costs
- Court reporting costs
- Gathering medical evidence and medical records
Your attorney will provide an itemized statement of these legal costs on demand.
The remainder of the settlement is yours now that all fees and liens have been deducted.
What Should I Do if My Settlement Is Badly Delayed?
In most cases, the victims of personal injury cases can expect to receive settlement within six weeks of negotiations ending.
Sometimes, unexpected additional delays occur, so what can you do about this?
Reach out to your attorney and request an explanation for the delay at minimum. Ideally, your lawyer may come up with some options to expedite this settlement payment.
Although your attorney is not legally obliged, they may agree to issuing a partial settlement payment. This gives you access to at least part of your settlement without needing to consider a lawsuit cash advance. Your attorney will retain a portion of the settlement to negotiate any liens.